KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Veterans’ group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) has slammed the government’s purported plans to reestablish the National Service Training Programme (PLKN) as a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money, especially as the Covid-19 crisis continues to rage on.
Patriot president Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said previous accusations of cronyism linked to PLKN were not addressed as nearly half of the RM8.43 billion spent on the programme went towards rent for the training camps.
“There was much criticism towards the training programme, including that the main objective to instill patriotism, foster understanding, harmony, unity, and a caring Malaysian society, had failed.
“Although studies might show the PLKN was successful in achieving a score of about 80 per cent in instilling patriotism, societal behavior among our populace for both youths and adults does not show.
“There was also accusation that the PLKN was to enrich cronies, and with nearly half of the total cost towards paying rental of training camps. PLKN cannot and should not proceed until these criticisms are addressed,” Arshad said in a statement today.
PLKN was mooted in 2004 by then defence minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and ran until 2018 when the Pakatan Harapan government discontinued it.
Arshad said a total of 885,956 youths participated in the training but the cost for rental at 43 per cent of the total expenditure was far too high.
Instead, he urged the government and the Education Ministry to follow the Japanese and Korean education models.
“The Japanese and Korean educational models in nurturing patriotism and other good values begin at an early age, are examples that we can emulate,” said Arshad.
“Western models may not suit us because their societies are too liberal and it may run counter to our Asian conservative values.”
Arshad also said the government could consider developing existing extracurricular activities like scouting (Brownies, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides), outdoors motivational camps, military and police school cadets, and school choirs as well as the Red Crescent and St John’s Ambulance.
He also urged the Education Ministry to invest in hiring experts in motivational training capable of developing training modules that meet similar objectives as PLKN.
Earlier this week, Parliament heard that the government was planning to bring back PLKN to foster unity among youths.